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Pathways to Healthcare Boosts College Entry, Training Hours and Credentials


  • Low skills prevent many adults from getting living-wage jobs.
  • Abt assessed if Pathways to Healthcare improved short-term educational outcomes.
  • Pathways to Healthcare increased college enrollment, occupational training and credential attainment.
The Challenge

Adults with low skills or limited English proficiency face poor employment and earnings prospects. Postsecondary training is one way to improve job opportunities if the training aligns with industries’ local demand for skilled workers. Access to training that enables low-skilled adults to meet employers’ skills requirements is a critical goal for policymakers, workforce development organizations and educators. Career pathways programs address this. But limited rigorous research is available on their effects on participants’ educational and economic outcomes.

The Approach

For Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE), Abt evaluated Pima Community College’s Pathways to Healthcare program. The program mapped 16 training programs to five career pathways, offered academic and non-academic advising, provided scholarships for tuition and books, and offered employment support. It included a compressed basic skills program for those not college ready. An implementation study examined the program’s design, operation and participation patterns. An impact study measured effects on educational and early employment outcomes 18 months after random assignment.

The Results

Students assigned to the study’s treatment group—those who could participate in Pathways to Healthcare--were significantly more likely to enroll in college (56% versus 36%). They received more hours of occupational training (190 versus 127). The program more than doubled the percentage of participants earning a college credential (23% versus 10%). 


PACE Career Pathways Profile: Pima Community College Pathways to Healthcare HPOG Program

Pima Community College Pathways to Healthcare Program: Implementation and Early Impact Report